The online platforms who are forerunners of the vision metaverso for the future of the internet they are already serving as workshops to develop products for real life.
The barrier between digital and the tangible is shrinking. From sneakers sketched in the virtual world but produced in the real world, even designers who anticipate clothing in avatars before making it.
“In real life it is extremely expensive to make any product,” said the French haute couture designer. Julien Fournie, who runs his own fashion house.
The web is “an opening place to test things virtually and recreate an extremely accurate connection to real life experience,” he added.
The clamor for virtual goods comes amid predictions that the metaverse, a version of internet virtual reality, will eventually replace today’s web.
In recent months, a growing number of brands have sought to establish a presence on the most resonant platforms, from Roblox to Fortnite, for fear of missing a great technological and social change.
How users interact with products online, what they search for and what they ignore, offers a relatively low-cost and risky opportunity for companies to develop products.
This is part of an underlying trend of exploiting data collected from the web “to develop better collections, to make better forecasts,” said Achim Berg, partner at the consultancy. McKinsey & Company.
The pandemic of coronavirus it helped bridge the gap between the virtual and the real and prompted many designers to create in three dimensions, in the absence of being able to meet physically, Berg added.
Opportunity for young designers
At the end of February 2021, the RTFKT studio, together with the Seattle artist FEWOCiOUS, released a limited edition of 621 pairs of virtual sneakers through their NFTs, digital items that can be bought and sold through the blockchain technology.
One aspect of the deal was to match each digital pair sold one day with tangible shoes, which the buyer could pick up six weeks later.
“We think that the emotional bond with physical objects is still important and can increase attachment” to digital products, he told the newspaper. The Wall Street Journal Benoit Pagotto, one of the founders of RTFKT, a company acquired by the giant Nike in December.
The application Aglet, which mixes virtual shoes and augmented reality, created his shoes Telga, in the style of giants like Adidas The Reebok.
Now he plans to make real sneakers, the company’s CEO said, Ryan David Mullins, who noted that a first batch of 500 was sold before production began.
“Once you can quantify the demand on these platforms it is much easier to build the channel to manufacture them in the real world,” he observed.
Aglet noted that the company is beginning to work with younger designers as the cost of entry to building their own physical brand can be too expensive for them.
“But starting to design virtually is much easier,” he added.
Another variant of online growth is the high-end fashion platform Farfetch, which in August launched a formula for reserving items from Balenciaga, Off-White The Dolce & Gabbana which are digital only.
That platform collaborated with the study DressX, who designs virtual clothing, to achieve the most compelling representation possible.
The parts are then manufactured in the workshop only if they match what is requested. That is especially attractive for high-end brands.
That way of working can also help avoid overproduction and unsold goods, factors that have become a concern for associated environmental costs.
Not all, however, are convinced of turning digital into tangible.
“Digital items can be worn, collected and traded in the metaverse, so there is no need for physical counterparts,” said The Fabricant, a virtual fashion house,
The Dutch company sees the permeability between the virtual and the real world as a good thing when people choose to “bring the aesthetics of the virtual world into their physical lives.”